April 2013

“You’re the one who wanted to move here.”

by Priscilla on April 27, 2013

This was Mr. TIS’s response after reading out loud to me the following ad from today’s local paper:

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(Seems like a good deal to me.)

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My very funny friend from college days of yore, Jules, knows how much I love wise Facebook postings, so she made sure to message me one today that is now making the rounds called 60 Ways to Make Your Marriage Rock.

You need to know that I abhor the word rock when used as a verb. It is a noun.  Period.  Using rock as a verb – unless you are rocking the boat or the baby – is right up there with describing your soft taco from Moe’s as epic or your 13.1 sticker as uh-ma-zing. 

I think it’s safe to assume where I’m going with this.

I’m going to preface this all with God knows my husband and I could use marriage tips.  Heavens, we all could. My ideas of  marriage tips are more along the lines of  Visit with your financial planner at least once a year to make sure everyone’s on the same track to ensure a secure financial future.  Or, Don’t plan an extended three week vacation in a rented mountain cabin with your in-laws. You know, the common sense stuff.  Sure, there’s the boring stuff like 1.) Forget about the bathroom being your sanctuary.  That ship has sailed, and it only gets worse once kids enter into the picture. or 2.) Men, on average, tend to like to the have sex a lot. 3.) Some people are not morning people, and talking to them before 6:30 a.m. is pointless. 4.) No, as a matter of fact, he cannot read your mind. 5.) Socks all over the house will cost you some of that sex you like so much. 5.) It’s always good to know before you marry whether your partner wants to have kids, and if so, how many. If you don’t like the answer, maybe marriage isn’t a great idea. But these kinds of ideas aren’t touchy feely enough to make the rounds on Facebook much less be liked and share 3,498 times. You know what are though – some of the following from the list of 60.

48. Lay in bed together and stare into each other eyes, without talking

Okay, first of all, clearly these people don’t have small children, because if they did, they’d know, that when you finally get time in bed alone together, that time is spent sleeping. Period.  Also, if my husband woke to me staring into his eyes, he would immediately grow nervous and think, Great, she’s been watching Dateline again.  I wonder how high my life insurance is now.  If the tables were turned, I’d think, Great he wants sex…or bacon.  (After 18 years I still can’t distinguish between the sex or bacon look.)

9. Wear shirts that tell the world you love your spouse.

Jules tells me this is her favorite.  I just don’t have any words.

1. Always love each other, even when it’s hard to.

I found this one to be the most profound.  Serious marriage seminar stuff.

21. Surprise each other.

I’m sorry.  I think this one needs to go a little more in depth.  For example there’s a huge difference between, Surprise her with flowers, and, let’s say, Surprise her by coming home early and finding her in bed with the lawncare guy.  Cynical? Maybe, but if you are going to go on Facebook and start handing out 60 points for free to the entire cyberworld, you better get specific.  I’m just sayin’.  (I threw the last part in for my friend, Kenny, whose favorite phrase is Just sayin’.)

25. Call him right now and tell him you appreciate him.

Yes, bosses love this – especially in the middle of sales pitches and firefights with the Taliban.

4. Hide notes in secret places.

Ummm, those of us with kids know there are no secret places.  I learned these when I found my child  directing her stuffed animal orchestra with my vibrator.

50. Leave a sweet comment on the Facebook wall.

Okay, I may get some blowback here, but this is one I’ll never get.  Seriously?  How about shutting off Facebook every now and then, actually turning your body towards the spouse  sitting right beside you and saying, I love you.  I’m so glad we are together.  No one else needs to know, or hear, or read. You want intimacy, my friends?  That’s intimacy! Enough of this Facebook posting nonsense.

23. Text each other from across the room

Again, I think the writers need to give a little more direction here.  I’m assuming they don’t mean, I can so see you checking out that blond! or Remind me, we need to stop for oil filters on the way home.

59. Maintain a united front as your motto: Meaning- “Me and you against the world.

Ahhhhhh!  Use of incorrect grammar and non use of the closing quotation mark completely negates this tip.

 53. Wear something your spouse loves.

This would leave me very cold and very indecent most of the day.

For Men Only

26. Leave work on time and come home early

Women, we are off the hook.  Stay late and go out with the girls afterward for drinks!  Woo-hoo!

6. Listen to music together-share ear-buds

Precisely because I do love my husband, we don’t share earbuds.  I learned a long time ago he does not understand, nor appreciate my love affair with Barry Manilow. He related this fact one morning early on in our marriage when I stared at him while we were lying in bed together and began crooning Her name was Lola…

My marriage advice for the day – stop  getting your marriage advice from Marriage Advice Facebook Postings (especially with lists of 60 tips for crying out loud) and start talking to real live people who are in good marriages.  Surprisingly, these folks are full of good information.

 

 

 

 

 

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On Monday We Went to School

by Priscilla on April 16, 2013

The posting title may seem mundane, but this wasn’t a regular Monday in my area.  Long story short last January an anonymous person wrote a note on a public bathroom wall threatening to harm 20 random children from five random schools in the city on April 15. I won’t go into it because quite frankly I think the police  mishandled the  situation, and whoever the perpetrator of the threat is doesn’t deserve my time of day.  But apparently, a lot of people, especially parents,  disagree with me because only about 40% of the students showed up at school on Monday.  My girls were part of that group.  I was too.

I talked about the threat with my husband who is in the security business, and we agreed for a variety of reasons that the girls would go to school and that I would go with them for the entire day.  Here are my reasons for taking the actions I did:

  • People who make vague threats on bathroom walls are angry about something and don’t know what to do with that anger so they decide other people will pay for their feelings.  My children and I will not cow tow to such people.  Period. Ever.
  • People who make vague random threats on bathroom walls will continue to do so when 60% of parents react just how the bully wants them to.
  • Besides Jesus and God and family, education is the most important priority for my kids and like hell am I going to listen to someone who scrawls threats on bathroom walls.  You have a problem with society, you don’t scrawl on bathroom walls.  You educate yourself.  You attend meetings to see how you can make a difference.  You volunteer to make things better.  You admit maybe you have a problem you can’t handle on your own and seek help, and you don’t stop seeking help until you get it. But you don’t, and I repeat you don’t threaten taxpayers and teachers and administrators and innocent children because your life isn’t going the way you want it.
  • Because no matter what day of the week it is, threat or no threat, I cannot control every single facet of my children’s safety in this world.  Bad things happen.  Evil exists. What about today when there is no threat on a bathroom wall?  Does that mean nothing can possibly happen? Does that mean harm can’t and won’t come to my children?  The truth is we don’t live in a bubble, and if I can’t handle that, then I might as well keep my children at home and school them in my living room through college because, quite frankly, that’s the only way to cut down on the what ifs and the but maybes.  For parents in war torn countries, and let’s face it, right here in our our country in parts of cities such as Chicago and LA, these kind of threats are a daily fact of life, and yet they keep soldiering on,  getting their kids to school – to the education- to the truth speakers because the truth shall make us free.
  • My kids feel safest and most secure when I am around, and when they know the full truth.  So I told them the truth about the situation because the playground and lunchroom were all abuzz anyway.  I told them they were going to go to school and why, and I told them I’d be there with them.

So we went, and here’s what happened:  I got to watch this  live footage of an eagle family in Minnesota. I got beat playing chess by two third grade boys, and learned strategies from them that I was never taught.  I ate bologna sandwiches with five chatty girls, and we discussed some scary dreams we’ve had and  what was going on in our lives that may have explained why we were having these dreams. I helped students write a letter to SGT Tammy serving in the US military currently deployed in Afghanistan.  Because kids ask a lot of questions, the teacher and I had an impromptu lesson on a variety of subjects to include different cultures, varying religious sects and the opium trade. I watched on as the class sat in the computer lab answering math questions using charts and graphs and then created their own charts and graphs, and I thought to myself that math’s a lot more fun when presented in this way, and then I grew kinda jealous because math with Miss Trunchbull in my third grade class was lots of timed drills and sitting quietly working out word problems about brussel sprouts and rutabagas. Okay, so maybe it wasn’t that bad, but I remember thinking at the time that it wouldn’t kill the folks writing those awful Scott Foresman math books to spice things up a little in the word problem department.

Before I knew it, the bell rang, the girls and I drove home, I turned on the radio while I started dinner….and I listened to the news about the Boston Marathon tragedy.

I’m not going to write about that today; not  because I don’t think or feel or care, but because I am just at a complete  loss, and like the entire country my heart hurts and rages at the same time.

A beautiful eight year old boy lost his life simply watching the race with his family at the finish line.  I now read that his sister and mother are in critical condition. My nine year old girls attended school during a time of heightened threat and made it home just fine.

It makes no sense.

But it proves my point.  There are no guarantees.  We don’t know where Evil will show its ugly face and scratch and claw and try to maim hope and humanity. For those of us in the faith community, we trust in a God who sees and loves and grieves with us, and along with the larger community of humankind, we mourn with those who mourn and stand in awe of the ones on the scene who ran back to help or forward to the hospital to donate blood –The Helpers – as described by my childhood friend and comforter, Mr. Fred Rogers.

What a beautiful name. Such a simple concept.

On Monday we went to school, and in doing so, we did our small part to push back and tell the Threateners that their way is not our way.  It’s not the right way, and that even in the face of threats, we will continue to look for and be The Helpers.

 

 

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The following are items I believe look nice, yeah, even pop (to overuse and already overused word when it comes to color descriptions), when graced by the color orange.

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My first real live Le Creuset pot that I finally found after visiting the local TJ Maxx approximately 394 times looking for just this.

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My daughter’s Halloween trick or treat stash holder.  (Why yes the background does include cat food strewn about on the floor and a kitty litter bag hapharzardly lying about.  Clearly, I am not overseeing my children’s cat care chores in stern enough manner. )

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Kind of stating the obvious here, but nevertheless, Cuties are cuter when they are orange.  

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Those nice Pod People over at Tide know a snappy marketing campaign should include the perky color orange, especially if you are plugging  a product that is involved in a humdrum household chore.

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The colors of Mr. TIS’s favorite NFL team.  (This little guy has been a bit lonely since I shipped his gal pals from the holidays off to a big box labeled “Christmas” stored  in the basement.)

The following item, however, does not look nice, nor does is pop – or snap or crackle for that matter – when the color orange is applied.

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What do you mean what is this?  This, dear friends, is what I continue to see at the gym on a daily basis.  (Yes, I could have taken a picture of a complete stranger and posted it online without her knowledge like all those nice helpful, folks warning us about the obesity epidemic, but I like to think I have a soul.) This is a formerly white woman who needs someone like me to come along and say, “Hey, you know what, you are smart and beautiful and funny and talented, but, girl, you just climbed up on the stupid wagon for a minute there, and I am here to help you down.”

So here I am admonishing, Hey, Orange Girl, if you are not going to prom or getting married anytime soon it is time to quit crawling into that godawful tanning bed four times a week. Seriously.  Knock.It.Off.

That’s all.  My work here is done…until I go to the store and see this walk past me to grab some milk out of the dairy freezer….

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And this, this, girls, is why we always look in the mirror before leaving the house – even if only to walk the dog.

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(I got in a fight with the ashes in some glass candle holders I was cleaning, and it appears I lost.)

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Saving Cee Cee Honeycutt

by Priscilla on April 4, 2013

My brother (the Super Smarty one – oh, wait, that’s all five of my older brothers) describes himself as a denominational harlot when it comes to all things Protestant church.  He’s tried them all.  I  feel the same way when it comes to reading books except I’m going to use stronger language – I’m a Genre Whore.  That’s right.  I love most all literary genres, and I try them all out depending not always on my head but sometimes on my feelings at that moment whether it’s walking into a library or downloading an audiobook.

This week I was looking for a book with which to do life.

What do I mean by this?  I was looking for a book to be my companion as I worked at all the minuscule, mundane activities that make up the life of a mother who stays at home, but who is staring at  the bridge to Return to Work Land and ready to cross over again.  I wanted a book that provided companions for me as I washed the dishes, made the lunches, sorted the laundry, paid the bills, painted the bathroom, set out the bird feeders, walked the dog, vacuumed the stairs and readied the deck for painting.  In short, I was looking for friends to keep me company.

Beth Hoffman offered me those friends and more in her novel Saving Cee Cee Honeycutt.

Right off the bat the reader realizes that twelve year old Cee Cee has few things going for her.  1.) Her mother, a former Southern beauty queen, suffers from mental illness.  2.)  Her father can’t cope with this truth and escapes on business trips for long periods of time leaving Cee Cee to do the heaving lifting.  3.)  (And this is purely personal)  Cee Cee has the misfortune to live in Ohio.  I know, I know, my sweet Ohio friends, I love you.  I miss you.  I understand that you love your state, but four years of college there were enough for me.  Not that Indiana is Shangri La, but at least we have a winning basketball team…oh…wait a minute…well, we have Peyton Manning…wait….we have limestone.  Lots and lots of limestone that is pretty darn famous worldwide.

Cee Cee’s mother ‘s tragic death leads her father to shirk his parental responsibility, and he passes her onto a great aunt, Tootie, who resides in a glorious old home in Savannah, Georgia.  It is here that Cee Cee learns not only from Tootie, but from wise, old souled, Oletta, to take grief by its hand and walk with it into a new chapter of her life.  I think this is the truth I appreciated the most that Beth Hoffman shares through her characters’ words and actions.  Anyone who has experienced a shocking, tragic death learns that this is how grief must be dealt with.  It is not to be ignored. It is to be embraced and shaped into new steps leading to a new path to a different place we may not have expected, but that can be good nonetheless.

Humorous situations arise as Cee Cee spies on one neighbor, Violene with another neighbor Thelma Rae, giving her a new creative outlet to pursue with the camera Aunt Tootie presented her as a gift, but along with the humor comes reality. It is the South in the 60’s and racism rears its ugly head on more than one occasion – something a twelve year old from Ohio has never experienced first hand.

My only complaint – and it isn’t even a complaint even,  just an observation – is that the climax of the story which takes place at a garden party thrown in Cee Cee’s honor doesn’t really work for me.  The scene is resolved in a fashion that I find unbelievable, but I’m okay with that.  Partly because I’ve never written a book ,and I think drawing all things to a close must be one of the harder jobs an author must face, and partly because the two characters involved are both a little over the top ridiculous so maybe things just might unfold in the manner Ms. Hoffman allows them to.

If you are looking for a beach read or a book that provides and uplifting escape, I’d recommend this one.  If you’ve followed me for a while you know I have a group of ladies in my life that I refer to as My Oaks, and you also know that we  lost a dear member of our group along with her two beautiful children in a horrific tragedy.  Listening to this work made me think of all the wisdom we gained walking through that dark time together, and I wrote to them and told them about the book.  One group member wrote me back this note, Priscilla that happens to be one of my all time favorites. A few years ago I bought a dozen of them and gave as gifts !!!!!

Cee Cee Honeycutt is wise beyond her twelve years, and with the help of the older ladies around her she realizes she is beautiful, talented, smart and worthy of the love and friendship that is offered to her – a message I believe all women should be sharing with the young ladies in our lives.

Addendum:  Jenna Lamia, the reader of the audio version is brilliant.  She also read The Help among others.

 

 

 

 

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